O’Ward denies Newgarden in victory charge from 16th place

IndyCar

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Patricio O’Ward drove brilliantly from 16th on the grid to take the lead with less than three laps to go and drive away to his second win of the 2021 IndyCar Series season in Sunday’s second race of the Detroit Grand Prix double-header. O’Ward, who now leads the IndyCar Series championship by a single point, became the first repeat winner of 2021, and denied Josef Newgarden a flag-to-flag first victory of the 2021 season.

Newgarden led 67 out of 70 laps, starting from pole on the primary compound tyres, while all of his closest pursuers started the race on the alternate tyres. After the first caution, which came out on the opening lap when Max Chilton ran into James Hinchcliffe, Newgarden began to pull away from the field. By the time Newgarden made his first pit stop on lap 20 his lead over second-place Colton Herta was 13.5 seconds.

Newgarden followed that up with another quick stint, going until lap 46 on another set of primary tyres. But Herta, who started the race on alternate tyres, started to close on Newgarden over the course of the second stint. Herta had the advantage in the final stint, Newgarden having to run his last stint on the used set of alternate tyres that he ran in qualifying.

Two cautions in the final 20 laps – one for a spin involving rookie Jimmie Johnson, and another for a fiery brake failure on Romain Grosjean’s car – bunched up the field, and it was only at this juncture that O’Ward entered the frame for victory. On the first safety car restart, he forcefully overtook Scott Dixon for fifth into turn one. On the second restart, O’Ward got past two cars in just three corners, and then overtook Herta for second with five laps to go. Newgarden, O’Ward, and Herta ran nose-to-tail until a lock-up from Herta at turn three caused him to fall back.

With three laps remaining, O’Ward pounced on Newgarden after a strong run out of turn six – the same place where his McLaren SP teammate Felix Rosenqvist suffered his heavy crash yesterday – and made his move on the run down the backstretch along Strand Drive to rip the lead away from Newgarden. He then drove away to a final victory margin of 6.7 seconds.

After the race, O’Ward dedicated his victory not only to his team mate Rosenqvist – who was discharged from a local hospital this morning – but also to the late co-owner of McLaren, Mansour Ojjeh, who passed away last week.

Newgarden held on to finish second by the skin of his teeth, just ahead of Álex Palou, who overtook Herta for the final podium position in third. Behind Herta in fourth, Graham Rahal took his second straight top five finish of the Detroit GP weekend in fifth.

Will Power extracted a measure of revenge after his gutting defeat on Saturday, by going from 20th on the grid to finish sixth using the same tyre strategy as Newgarden. Scott Dixon finished seventh ahead of Simon Pagenaud. Marcus Ericsson followed his first career win yesterday with a ninth-place finish today, from 22nd on the grid. Santino Ferrucci, who started in a back-up car after a hard crash at the end of qualifying this morning, recorded his third top-10 in as many races this season.

O’Ward’s second win of the season gives him a one-point lead in the championship over Palou, the latter taking his third podium finish from the last four races. IndyCar’s next race is in one week at the Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

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Race result

PositionCarDriverTeamEngine
15Patricio O’WardMcLaren SPChevrolet
22Josef NewgardenPenskeChevrolet
310Alex PalouGanassiHonda
426Colton HertaAndrettiHonda
515Graham RahalRLLHonda
612Will PowerPenskeChevrolet
79Scott DixonGanassiHonda
822Simon PagenaudPenskeChevrolet
98Marcus EricssonGanassiHonda
1045Santino FerrucciRLLHonda
1128Ryan Hunter-ReayAndrettiHonda
1230Takuma SatoRLLHonda
1327Alexander RossiAndrettiHonda
1429James HinchcliffeAndretti SteinbremnnerHonda
1520Ed CarpenterCarpenterChevrolet
1614Sebastien BourdaisFoytChevrolet
1718Ed JonesCoyne/VasserHonda
1821Rinus VeeKayCarpenterChevrolet
1960Jack HarveyMeyer ShankHonda
203Scott McLaughlinPenskeChevrolet
2148Jimmie JohnsonGanassiHonda
2259Max ChiltonCarlinChevrolet
234Dalton KellettFoytChevrolet
2451Romain GrosjeanCoyne/RWRHonda
257Oliver AskewMcLaren SPChevrolet

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Author information

RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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  • 7 comments on “O’Ward denies Newgarden in victory charge from 16th place”

    1. Always loved Detroit double-header and this weekend proved what a great racing track it is.
      The championship battle is looking very good, with around 9 drivers in the shot.

      Thank for coverage 🏎

    2. Well done Pato, it seems like it was a good week for the Mexican drivers.
      Hopefully Pato gets a chance at McLaren F1

      1. @luis A testing chance, possible, but racing, unlikely.

      2. @luis Would he want it, even if the opportunity was there? In IndyCar he can fight for wins, and maybe even the championship if this year continues to go well for him. In F1 with McLaren he might get the occasional podium, but not much else.

    3. Man those last 10 laps were insane, the young lad is a beast. Now about the F1 talk, I don’t see McLaren dumping DannyRic to bring Pato as talented as he is, they do have a strong lineup already even when DR is not at his best at the moment. He was at some point on a path to F1 through Red Bull junior programme, beurocracy messed it up and Dr. Marko dumped him when he didn’t get enough super license points for his Indy Lights title. So that door is also closed, the only path I see is through a backmarker team, I would take Pato over Latifi or Mazepin anytime anyday, but he’s not backed by big money as Sergio Perez was in his beginnings and also would he want to be fighting to not be the last place rather than winning races every weekend in Indy?

    4. I’ve never had the time to follow IndyCar, other than occasionally watching the Indy 500, but as a McLaren fan it’s great to see them succeeding in other series.

      Zak Brown has done tremendous work in reigniting the brand on and off the track.

    5. Kid is something special

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